NSF awards new grant to Math's Mariana Smit Vega Garcia

by Mikayla King
College of Science and Engineering

Western Washington University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Mariana Smit Vega Garcia was recently awarded a $190,000 National Science Foundation Grant for her research on partial differential equations, or PDEs.

Smit Vega Garcia’s research is concerned with the study of specific families of PDEs that model various physical phenomena including the melting of ice, combustion, chemical diffusion, liquid crystals, and image processing. Her goal is to develop new mathematical tools that can be used to better understand the physical phenomena being modeled, and to create new avenues to analyze the underlying PDEs and enhance their comprehension from a mathematical perspective.

National Science Foundation awards for work in Mathematics are highly competitive, and this award represents a significant achievement for Smit Vega Garcia and for Western’s Math Department. As part of the project, Smit Vega Garcia is organizing a week-long workshop for underserved first-generation students interested in mathematics.

“I have always been very passionate about attracting and encouraging students to pursue various careers in Mathematics, particularly those from underrepresented groups,” Smit Vega Garcia said. “First generation students are severely underserved in the U.S., with retention and graduation rates much lower than non-first-generation students.”

The workshop is designed to maximize student success and contribute to the development of a mathematically well-versed and diverse workforce. Students will participate in mini courses, attend research talks, and have informal conversations with mathematicians who work in different sub fields of the discipline.

The National Science Foundation was founded in 1950 to promote the progress of science and support fundamental research and education in science and engineering. With over $6 billion awarded annually, NSF funds approximately 25 percent of federally-supported research conducted by American colleges and universities.

For more information about her new grant or the grant-funded workshops, contact Mariana Smit Vega Garcia at mariana.smitvegagarcia@wwu.edu.

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